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Fast and furious prosecutor will plead 5th

Jan. 20, 2012 at 6:05 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- A federal prosecutor in Arizona has asserted his Fifth Amendment rights in an investigation into a botched weapons operation, Rep. Darrell Issa said Friday.

Issa, R-Calif., said Patrick Cunningham's attorney wrote a letter to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee saying his client would give only his name and his title with the Justice Department, The Washington Times reported. Cunningham is now the head of the criminal division in the Phoenix U.S. Attorney's Office but has resigned effective Jan. 27.

Cunningham was subpoenaed to appear before the committee next week to testify about Operation Fast and Furious. The investigation was an attempt to track weapons being sold in Mexico.

Attorney Tobin Romero, in a letter to the committee, said Cunningham would assert the Fifth Amendment privilege to avoid self-incrimination.

"My client is, in fact, innocent, but he has been ensnared by the unfortunate circumstances in which he now stands between two branches of government. I will therefore be instructing him to assert his constitutional privilege," Romero said.

Issa said Cunningham was the first person to use the Fifth Amendment in the investigation. He called it "a significant indictment of the Justice Department's integrity in Fast and Furious."

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